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State Highlights

Some areas where Washington has moved the needle relative to other states include laws authorizing comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness, addressing the educational needs of youth experiencing homelessness, and promoting safety and inclusion by providing protections for LGBTQ youth within key state programs.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • The state has RHY statutes similar to the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) that provides funding for emergency services and other supports to prevent and end youth homelessness. 
  • The state allows youth in foster care to access extended foster care services to age 21 under some circumstances and allows eligible youth who have exited the foster care system after 18 to re-enter care until age 21.
  • State law provides youth experiencing homelessness some contract rights.
  • The state allows shelters to take in youth experiencing homelessness with a delay or waiver of notification requirements. 
  • The state explicitly allows partial and alternative school credit accrual for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • The state allows unaccompanied youth under 18 to apply for health insurance coverage on their own.

Systems

Systems

  • There is a current state plan to end homelessness that contains a youth-specific strategy component. 
  • The state has created an entity that focuses solely on designing, implementing, and evaluating youth homelessness programs.
  • There is a state interagency council on homelessness.

Environment

Environment

  • The state has banned conversion therapy for minors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • The state promotes safe and inclusive environments in child welfare and juvenile justice programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is room for improvement throughout the metrics for the Evergreen State, with emphasis on the Systems category.

Law and Policy

Law & Policy

  • Reduce opportunities for contact between youth experiencing homelessness and the criminal and juvenile justice systems by declassifying running away as a status or delinquent offense.
  • Provide greater support to youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice system, including transition planning that specifically addresses housing needs, custody after discharge, and youth permanency.

Systems

Systems

  • Allow youth to obtain state-issued identification cards without parental consent.

Environment

Environment

  • Require training about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, healthy sexual development, or issues specific to LGBTQ youth for staff working in runaway and homeless youth systems.
  • Promote safe and inclusive environments in runaway and homeless youth programs by providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

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